Southern Baptist’s Chaplaincy Website and “Government Paid Missionaries”

*MRFF’s Constitutional civil-rights battle for separation of church and state in the U.S military faces vicious opposition from fundamentalist evangelical Christian dominionists hell-bent on ensuring military chaplains function as “government paid missionaries” (click link to see MRFF’s video on this topic). This archaic, crusader like mentality is, by far, the greatest threat America faces today.  The following ridiculous quotes currently appear on the Southern Baptists’ Chaplaincy Home Page:

“Every chaplain is a missionary in uniform, and an evangelist at large, called to share the gospel where few missionaries can go.” 

“Today Southern Baptist chaplains continue carrying the Gospel into places where the church cannot go…”

The terrifying prospect of a powerful minority group of fundamentalists using our country’s military might as a force for evangelism IS a clear and present danger.  MRFF fights against this insidious threat and protects servicemembers from religious bigotry and forced evangelism within America’s Armed Forces daily, but we fear should such an ideology gain a stronger foothold abroad, our country faces igniting wars and unleashing medieval chaos under the guise of doing God’s work.

________________

On December 21st, 2017, a MRFF asset sent the following email:

From: MRFF Asset/Former Senior Military Christian Chaplain
Subject: “Every chaplain is a missionary in uniform…”
Date: December 21, 2017 at 5:10:10 PM MST
To: “‘Mikey Weinstein'”
Cc: xxxxxxxxxxxx

It is estimated that between 18 and 20 percent of all military chaplains are Southern Baptist (even though only 3 percent of all personnel are Southern Baptist).  It is further often-stated that another 60 some percent are some other brand of Evangelical clergy.  But as these clergy have sworn to support the Constitution, and especially focus on the First Amendment where they agree to “Perform or Provide for the Free Exercise of Religion” of all people, to the best of their ability. Faith group membership and credentialing of these chaplains really should not matter, in general.  A chaplain is a chaplain is a chaplain.  Right?  Well, not quite.  

 A quick glance at the Southern Baptists’ Chaplaincy home page (www.NAMB.net/chaplaincy) shows that “Every chaplain is a missionary in uniform, and an evangelist at large, called to share the gospel where few missionaries can go.” “Today Southern Baptist chaplains continue carrying the Gospel into places where the church cannot go,” says Major General (U.S. Army, retired),Doug Carver, former U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains from 2007 until 2011 and the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB’s) executive director of chaplaincy.  [Please see the attached snip below.]  And these government-paid missionaries-in-uniform from the Southern Baptists and other Evangelical denominations with a similar emphasis do just that:  They proselytize and evangelize on military installations and naval vessels where the church cannot go!  Unfortunately, they do so over the objections of military personnel who do not want to be the targets of these chaplains’ and over-zealous military leaders’ efforts to convert.  

That is when the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) steps in.  When contacted with complaints of unwanted contacts or undue influence of zealous military leaders, they immediately mobilize to action.  Whether it is being “voluntold” to attend a unit Bible Study or being forced-marched to attend a Christian barbecue at the post chapel so that they can be blasted with Christian rock music and given the Gospel along with a sandwich, MRFF is there to protect the service-members’ rights to say “no,” without retaliation.  And MRFF is also there to help chaplains be protected from the adversarial and even coercive efforts of senior chaplains toward the ministries and careers of junior chaplains who are seeking to do the “right” thing by the services’ men and women whom they have sworn to serve without bias.  With today’s disproportionate representation by Southern Baptists and other “missionary-minded” Evangelical groups, MRFF is needed now more than any other time in the chaplaincy’s history.

https://www.namb.net/chaplaincy_
_______________________________________

Another MRFF Asset followed with a substantiating personal anecdote in this email sent December 22, 2017.

From: [name withheld]
Subject: Re: ”Every chaplain is a missionary in uniform…”
Date: December 22, 2017
To: “‘Mikey Weinstein'” 

Several years ago, 2 fundamentalist Southern Baptist chaplains were assigned to the [military base withheld] replacing a progressive United Church of Christ senior chaplain & a moderate American Baptist chaplain. They soon ruined the non-denominational nature of the Protestant services & activities by terminating the Chapel Singers that provided a variety of music, limiting lay participation in chapel programs, obsessively preaching adults having consensual sex outside of marriage would burn in hell to families & children, etc, etc, ad infinitum. The result was over a 50% reduction in the diverse Protestant congregation from which it still has not fully recovered.

The departing United Church of Christ chaplain told me [withheld] and other chaplains dreaded having to work with fundamentalist Southern Baptist chaplains.

[withheld] & I  personally witnessed this as former active participants in the Protestant congregation there. 

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1 Comment

  1. Rev Chris Miller

    When I went on active duty in 1975, in the US Navy Chaplaincy, in basic Chaplain school, we were taught that we were to provide for the needs of our people. And that meant, providing them the religious support THEY wanted, not to perpetuate MY needs. I worked hard in the face of sudden deployment orders, to make sure my Jewish sailors had what they needed for Passover observance, and that my Catholic sailors had a lay leader who could lead Catholic Communion services, and that we had arranged for the lay leader to obtain the necessary supplies. It meant reaching out to the base Chaplain when my shipmate, who was Catholic, was killed in an accident; it meant finding a way to get people to the religious authorities THEY needed.

    We know we cannot meet everyone’s needs…some of that ministry training was to admit that we cannot meet everyone’s needs–not and stay faithful to our own religious beliefs. I am not on that ship to see how many I can convert. I am on that ship to make sure that the religious needs of my shipmates were front and center.

    Those Chaplains who see everyone around them as people to be targeted for conversion do not understand our national history, and they do not trust that the personal character of the Chaplain and his/her behavior as seen among the troops is the best means of encouraging those around them, to explore their religious beliefs, and seek to make their nominal faith a major part of life. The old saying “preach the gospel always. If necessary, use words” is a great reminder to all of us.

    Chaplains who try and convert everyone cause dissension among the crew. Rather, encourage everyone to deepen the faith they bring to the military. The freedom of the history of our nation is that there is no state (preferred) religion, and people are welcome to find whatever way has meaning for them. I am angry when Chaplains come into a command and try and create the command as a “Christian army”, for they coerce the members of the command, and they open themselves and what they say they preach to ridicule and denigration. That is surely not what they want, is it? Maybe it is???

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